I’ve had a couple of winters off from winter mountaineering so I chose an easy munro as my first day in Glencoe – I headed up Buachaille Etive Beag as its close to the road, has an easy to navigate path even in the snow and is jokingly referred to as ‘The People’s Munro’ as its so easy to bag. Frankly on Valentine’s Day in school half term it was bound to be crawling with either couple keen to do something adventurous, or school teachers desperate to get away from it all.
I heard someone say that school teachers constituted 90% of a mountain rescue calls this time last year. Is it because they’re so desperate to get away from a classroom of kids that they forget to pay attention, or just so many of them are flocking to the hills for that reason that the odds were never going to be in their favour?
I don’t know the answer but I met 5 teachers today, so the chances were looking good that it wasn’t going to be me sliding down the windslab.
The sun was shining, the midges were sleeping and the cloud across the Ben Lawers summit was looking like it would lift. What a perfect day for climbing mountains, it was hard to believe I was in Scotland.
Intending to do all of the 5 munros on the Ben Lawers range I knew it was going to be a long walk with a really dull slog back to the car. As I parked up at 9am at the main car park I was surprised by the number of cars already there and also by the information about the Nature Reserve on the large stones. Enough to distract me from my hike. From the car park the route starts sedately through the Nature Reserve.
I’m not sure I fit the stereotype of the typical Munro bagging, surely they have old 1980s oversized waterproofs in neon colours, big heavy gaiters over old boots, rucksacks you could fit yourself in and doggy determination to walk for miles and miles.
As I stood ankle-deep in the peat bog between Meall Glas and Sgiath Chuil I had to question whether I was, however, crazy. To start with neither of these mountains are significant players in the munro lists (199 and 270 highest out of 283), there is no distinct path across the endless bog between the two and frankly there are nicer munros in the Trossachs – I’d even bagged 2 the day before.
But I was there and even when the sun turned to rain there was no point turning back. I think that statement either marks me as a munro-bagger or just plain mad.
The hike starts out from the A85 in Glen Dochart, parking at Auchessen – a lovely little spot on a surprisingly sunny day.
Despite the risk of rain I had every intention of getting munros bagged whilst I was camping in Glen Dochart in the Trossachs last week. I had a nice surprise to find my parents had detoured on their travels around Scotland to meet up, but I think Dad was less impressed this meant he would be bagging munros with me.
Ben More is easily accessed from the A85 between Crianlarich and Killin, although this does involve spotting the tiny sign indicating the start of the trail, hidden in the trees.
I have to be honest, when my friend suggested walking part of the Fife Coastal Path last weekend my initial reaction wasn’t joy. If I’m going to go walking in Scotland surely it has to include mountains?
Pursuaded by the promise of an amazing chocolate cafe in neighbouring Pittenweem (which is definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area), we headed to the coast at Elie.
Beaches are beautiful in Scotland and the Fife coast is idyllic. Having parked up at Elie near the golf course we headed west along the rocky beach towards the cliffs. I’d been warned in advance that the walk would include scrambling and chains, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Having spent an afternoon in the major city in Asturias, Oviedo, we jumped on the bus to Pola de Somiedo for a couple of days of walking.
Having never visited Asturias before I was amazed at how big and beautiful the landscape is and I certainly would recommend Somiedo to everyone. Its quiet and being a national park it is never going to be over developed like some of the towns in the Picos Mountain area.
I love Scotland. Massive mountains, endless views, unreliable weather. Big mountain days, playing in the snow and always knowing you might not meet a soul all day.
However, I have to admit that I only visit Scotland before the Summer season, sticking to snowy winters or early spring. I did have the misfortune to have a week in late June in the Cairngorms a couple of years ago, which was pleasant enough until I ventured away from civilization and was promptly eaten by midges. Then it was a battle of stamina v the midge to get high enough up the mountains to be in the wind.
So since then I have planned trips to avoid this, in the last few years sticking to winter alone. We were lucky to have both perfect sunshine and no midges when I visit the Trossachs in May but i guess that’s not quite the heartland midge territory.
However, now I know this website exists I might plan differently – Midge Forecast – I guess its probably about as reliable as weather forecasts and common sense and DEET might still be required, but nevertheless a useful website, (even if it is a promotional tool for anti midge product too).
Always one to make the most of the bank holiday weekends, I dragged my best friend to the Trossachs. Not only was this her first time hiking in Scotland, it was also the first time she had been camping in the UK too. I had to rectify that immediately!
Now I’m not suggesting she isn’t a hiker, as she’s done the Inca Trail, but somehow she’d made it through her life and never walked any of the amazing hills in the UK. So we took the opportunity to visit a friend in Scotland to rectify the situation.
I opted for Crieff as our base, deciding there would be enough to keep us all happy if the weather was awful the whole time we were there, which lets face it is always a possibility in Scotland. It was also close enough for our Scottish friend to join us for a few days.